RE: Girraween & Sundown NP, QLD

To: <>
Subject: RE: Girraween & Sundown NP, QLD
From: Lee Mason <>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 15:54:13 +1030
Hi all
Over Easter I spent a couple of days exploring Girraween and Sundown National 
Parks (near Stanthorpe and the QLD/NSW border).  The Birding-Aus archives had 
plenty of information on these areas so I had a pretty good idea of what and 
where to find the various species I was after.  I had a nice list of target 
species, some (supposedly) easy (e.g. Eastern Rosella) and some not so easy 
(e.g. Chestnut-rumped Heathwren).

On the way I stopped at the Toowoomba Waterbird Habitat where the only water 
birds present were some Wood and Pacific Black Ducks.

Arriving at the Day Use area of Girraween, I had no sooner got out of the car 
when I saw my first new bird of the trip, a Red Wattlebird, foraging in the 

All reports said the Junction Track was the walk to spend the time on so I 
headed off to do the 2.5km walk.  The picnic area had the usual suspects 
present; Crows, Magpies, Pied Butcherbirds, noisy families and kids chasing 
kangaroos.  The forest just at the start of the walking tracks was alive with 
Brown Thornbills and Superb Fairy-wrens.  As I started on the Junction Track 
two White-eared Honeyeaters landed close for a photo opportunity and giving me 
my second new bird of the trip.  Further along the track White-throated 
Treecreepers were seen in the trees whilst Superb Wrens hopped all over the 
granite rocks and edges of the stream.  A flash of yellow in a tree caught my 
attention and as I focused my binocs my first ever Yellow-tufted Honeyeater 
came into view.  I took heaps of photos thinking I may not see another, but it 
turned out to be the most common bird in the park.  I spent the afternoon 
wandering the Junction Track in search of the Heathwrens but had to concede 
defeat as the light started to fade.  Arriving back at the Day Use area I found 
a flock of Crimson Rosellas.

Eastern Rosellas had still escaped me so with a little bit of light left I made 
a brief unplanned stop at a rest area just outside Stanthorpe.  For a small 
park next to the highway it had some good birds including Apostlebirds, Grey 
Crowned Babblers, and just as I was about to leave five Eastern Rosellas landed 
in the treetops giving me new bird no. 4 for the day.  I thought they would be 
easy to find but those five were the only ones sighted on the whole trip.

Next morning, I was at Girraween for sunrise.  I headed straight to the area of 
the Junction track that has the reputation for the Heathwrens and along the way 
saw more Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters and Superb Fairy-wrens.  A section of the 
track had plenty of bird activity so I stopped for a while and saw Grey Shrike 
Thrush, Dusky Woodswallows, White-browed Scrubwrens, more Yellow-tufted 
Honeyeaters, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, an enormous Red-bellied Black Snake but 
no Heathwren.  As I was watching the Woodswallows a flash of bright red and 
white caught my eye and sitting out in the open was a beautifully coloured 
Scarlet Robin (new bird No.5).  I spent the next hour and a half walking the 
Junction track, stopping whenever I heard wren-like calls.  It was getting 
late, warm and windy so  I decided to make one last walk of the area and had 
only gone 10m when three Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens jumped up and showed 
themselves (new bird No.6).  We eyed each other off for long enough to confirm 
the sighting and to take some quick photos before they headed off up the slope 
and away from the path.  Back at the picnic area I found White-winged Choughs, 
Satin Bowerbird and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.  I watched as a small flock of 
birds flew into the top of a tall tree and as I moved around to get better 
light they turned out to be White-naped Honeyeaters (new bird No. 7).

Several reports I had read mentioned that Spotted Quail Thrush could be found 
around the information centre or the start of the Junction Track.  I searched 
for a while but ran out of time as I needed the afternoon at Sundown National 

Next stop was Sundown National Park, about an hours drive from Girraween via 
the Bruxner Highway in NSW.  I arrived at the park about midday and checked in 
with the ranger (a good idea given I was on my own in a very quiet and secluded 
National Park).  The ranger was out but his wife asked me what I was after, so 
I rattled off a few of my targets (White-browed Babbler, Turquoise Parrot, 
Diamond Firetail, Eastern Shrike-Tit to name a few) and she said to hang around 
as most of them turned up around their garden each day (the babblers even had a 
nest in her garden!).  Whenever someone says to me “X, Y or Z bird turns up in 
my garden every day” I'll always be there on the day that  none of those birds 
will turn up at all, which is exactly what happened.  I did however see 
White-plumed Honeyeaters at the house and just about everywhere else in the 
park too, but I was pretty confident they wouldn’t be hard to find as every 
report I read mentioned them (new bird No.8 for the trip).  I walked some of 
the tracks but didn’t see much else that afternoon.  I met Peter, the park 
ranger, and he said there were not many Turquoise Parrots around at this time 
of the year.  He had seen a flock of Diamond Firetails that morning, but this 
was in another section of the park well away from the main camping section.  
With not much light remaining I left the park, stopping briefly at a few 
locations highlighted in my research but again, didn’t see much else.  Finally, 
just as I was about to leave the park boundary a flock of small parrots took 
off noisily from the long grass beside the road and flew up into a dead tree.  
I leapt out with the binocs and got a brief but good enough view of two 
Turquoise Parrots (new bird No.9).  The road out of the park had plenty of 
Common Bronzewings wandering around the roadside.

Next day, I was at Sundown National Park for sunrise (how ironic).  The morning 
had much better birding opportunities with the area alive with calls and birds. 
 Red-winged Parrots, King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, Brown Treecreepers, 
Restless Flycatchers, several flocks of Turquoise Parrots, White-plumed, Spiny 
Cheeked and Striped Honeyeaters, Grey Crowned Babblers, Dusky Woodswallows, 
Tree Martins, heaps of Jacky Winters (nearly as common as the White-plumed 
Honeyeaters), Noisy Friarbirds, Red-browed finches, Mistletoebirds, Variegated 
Fairy-wrens and Eastern Yellow Robins were all easily found in my travels.  The 
bird of the day however was one of my target species, White-browed Babblers 
(new bird No.10), with a family of about five birds found in the trees near the 
camping area.

With the prospect of a six hour drive back home I reluctantly had to leave with 
a few of my target species not seen.  I dipped on the Diamond Firetails, 
Eastern Shrike-tit, Spotted Quail Thrush, Ground Cuckoo Shrike and Little Eagle 
(Peter told me one had been soaring over his house the day before I arrived) 
and Hooded Robins to name a few.

I would recommend camping in the park itself rather than driving from 
Stanthorpe.  Both parks had different common species (and different scenery) so 
while I didn’t have much time at each park it was good to split the visit to 
both parks as I was able to easily pick up the common birds of each area.  
Girraween had the nicest scenery (and photo opportunities) but was by far the 
busiest park with people everywhere.  The camping sites at Sundown were also 
fully booked but even then the park was very peaceful.

All up I saw 81 species of birds on the trip with 10 being ‘lifers’.

Happy to supply more info if anyone is interested.


Lee Mason
Hervey Bay QLD
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